• Premier League

Ronaldo warns Di Maria of No.7 'responsibility'

ESPN staff
August 29, 2014
Di Maria: I want to emulate Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has warned Angel Di Maria that filling the No.7 shirt at Manchester United will be "a big responsibility" but has backed him to rise to the challenge.

Di Maria will be following in the footsteps of his former Real team-mate in wearing the iconic number after the Argentine's £59.7 million move from Madrid. Other United greats, including George Best, Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson, also wore the shirt.

  • Angel Di Maria is in some pretty stellar company as the new owner of the Manchester United No.7 shirt...
  • THE GOOD: Cristiano Ronaldo - Made 84 goals in 196 appearances, winning three titles and the Champions League in 2008
  • David Beckham - A member of the famed 'Class of '92', Beckham was an integral part of United's historic treble success in 1999
  • Eric Cantona - Remains an Old Trafford icon, helping United land four titles in five years with two league and FA Cup doubles
  • Bryan Robson - The longest serving captain in the club's history, Robson led United to their first Premier League title in 1992-93
  • George Best - Although he also wore the 8, 10 and 11 shirts at United with numbers assigned to positions in those days, the Northern Irishman wore the iconic No.7 shirt for the 1968 European Cup triumph
  • THE BAD: Michael Owen - Not many United fans would have pegged Owen to inherit the No.7 when Ronaldo left for Real Madrid. He did little to change their minds with 17 goals in 52 league appearances
  • THE UGLY: Antonio Valencia - While he has been far from a flop at United, Valencia ditched the No.7 after just one year when he took it in 2012, reverting to his old No.25 having endured his worst season
  • Nick Atkin

Speaking at the Champions League draw in Monaco, Ronaldo offered Di Maria a message of support.

"I wish the best to him," said Ronaldo. "He deserves it and he's going to do well at Manchester United.

"And I said to him that number seven is a big responsibility, but I think he will be able to take that shirt because he's a fantastic player.

"Personally, it's a shame for me because I liked Di Maria, a very important player for us as was Xabi Alonso [who is understood to be on the verge of joining Bayern Munich]. They are situations that happen in football, players come and players go.

"They are decisions of the club. We have bought very well with players like James [Rodriguez], [Keylor] Navas and [Toni] Kroos and for that reason we are in good condition with a great squad."

Ronaldo admitted he was surprised at United's poor start to the season, saying: "A little bit, yes. But it's still early."

The 29-year-old, named UEFA's European player of the year for 2013-14, believes that Real can still target the treble even after the departures.

Di Maria, speaking at his Old Trafford unveiling, said Ronaldo had encouraged him to take the shirt.

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